A few weeks ago, Girls Write Now held its first-ever annual benefit and awards. It was a perfect evening--as authentic, inspirational and moving as the organization, and worthy of the girls and the wonderful professional women writers who serve as their mentors (like Alice Canick, pictured with her mentee, Paldon Dolma, here). As the board chair, I was asked to say a few words. But how could I convey the critical importance of this organization to the people in the room in just a few words? I decided to do it by asking two questions. First, "Who in this room has had a mentor who changed his or her life?" There was a show of hands, but by no means the majority of the attendees had been so lucky. Second I asked, "Who in this room wishes she had?" The show of hands, then, was unanimous.
I have been lucky to have several mentors who have changed my life, but the one who was probably the most significant, the one who really created a fork in my path through life and sent me down the road less traveled as a writer, in particular, was the late Diane Middlebrook. I have written about Diane here before, but thinking of her again in the context of Girls Write Now made me want to ask a similar question of She Writers.
Did you (or do you) have a mentor who changed your life? Or do you still wish you did?
One of Diane's most lasting legacies to me was the salon of women writers we founded together in London, which still exists (and met recently, in fact) in London and in New York City, too. I host it with Nancy K. Miller, who Diane introduced me to ten years ago now, and who I regard as another mentor as well as a dear friend. Here at She Writes, I try to pay their tremendous generosity and guidance forward in some little way every single day. Because when a girl, or a woman, sets out to write, it can make a tremendous difference to have somebody she respects say to her, "Yes! You ARE a writer, and don't let anybody tell you differently!" It isn't an easy thing to believe about yourself, when you are just starting out, whether you are thirteen or eighty-five.
So please, take a minute to pay tribute to the mentors in your life by commenting here -- and, if you are feeling really inspired, take a minute to stop by a fellow She Writers website or blog and say, "Yes!" to her today, too.
PS: If you live in New York City and would like to become a mentor for Girls Write Now, the application deadline has just been extended to June 15th -- you can get all the information here!)